MALKIN LEADS PENGUINS PAST DEVILS
The Pittsburgh Penguins did not play a great game Tuesday night, which has been a trend for the last seven to eight games, but Evgeni Malkin (12) scored 2:32 into the third period and Marc Andre Fleury made 29 saves, earning his 5th shutout of the season, leading the Penguins to a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Players and coaches afterwards called Malkin a man on a mission and his play through the first 24 games has been one of the Penguins biggest developments this season. While some in the organization, feel Malkin milked a soft-tissue injury in training camp, this coaching staff notably Rick Tocchet challenged Malkin from the start of the season to play like an MVP and he has responded so far.
Malkin has even made adjustments in his game, becoming comfortable on the left side on the power play as he’s become a great shot option from just above the left circle on the man advandage.
While Sidney Crosby is more consistent on a game by game basis, Malkin’s season is more impressive than Crosby’s to this point when you factor in Sidney Crosby’s most common linemates have been Chris Kunitz/Patric Hornqvist this season, whereas, Malkin has produced with much lesser linemates.
BORTUZZO FACING LIKELY SUSPENSION
Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is facing a disciplinary hearing today with the NHL department of player safety for his late hit on Jaromir Jagr.
The hit was dangerous, late and worthy of at least a 2-3 game suspension.
“If I can play hard on him and try to make his night a little harder, that’s what I’m going to do against any team’s top players,” Bortuzzo said of his hit on Jagr.
“I thought it was a liberty,” Devils coach Pete Deboer said. “It was a headshot.”
Deboer also said if that hit happened to Sidney Crosby, it would lead to “World War 4”.
WINGER DEPTH DEPLETED
With Chris Kunitz out of the lineup due to a fractured foot, the Penguins winger depth was severely lacking and the Penguins got a strong game down the middle from their top-3 centers as all three played well rounded 200 ft games.
On the wing, Jayson Megna got some looks in the top-6 and had his most productive game of the season. Megna is not a top-6 winger by any means but in his limited action last season, he showed some chemistry with Malkin and last night set Malkin up for his game winning goal vs Devils.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Robert Bortuzzo led the Penguins with 7 hits
— Penguins went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill
— Scott Wilson making his NHL debut, played 4:21 prior to suffering a lower leg injury
— The Devils had the territorial edge 5 v 5, with 48 shot attempts to the Penguins 34
— Defenseman Paul Martin was pinned in his own end 5 v 5, on the ice for 25 shot attempts against.